Islam Misunderstood in Korea Due to Hostage Crisis
By Shamim Shahid; Special to The Korea Times
PESHAWAR, Pakistan _ The Korean Muslim Federation (KMF) has urged the Taliban to release the 19 Korean hostages immediately to prove that Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood.
Suliman Lee Haeng, the Imam of the Seoul Central Mosque, made the remark here during his visit with three other members of the Korean Muslim Federation.
They were visiting in a bid to seek the release of the Korean nationals in the central Ghazni province.
Beside Suliman, the delegates included naib imam, Abdul Rahman Lee, a member Zaki Jeong, and a Pakistani businessman living in Korea, Zulfiqar Ali Khan. Suliman is the director of the KMF and imam of the Central Mosque in Seoul.
Suliman said that the holy month of Ramadan is approaching and for the sake of it the group requests the immediate release of the hostages from Taliban custody.
So far he said the incident has affected the Muslim community in Korea where citizens are growing increasingly suspicious of their activities.
Abdul Rahman Lee said that policemen have been posted at the Central Mosque in Seoul round the clock due to a minor incident involving someone hurling stones in the mosque.
He added that some people also using abusive language against the Muslims and although the number doing it are few in number, Muslims are still affected by it.
The delegation has also met the chief of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam and Maulana Samiul Haq, at his seminary in Akora Khattak.According to them, Maulana Samiul Haq has assured them of his all-out support for the safe release of the Korean prisoners. The delegation said they were advised while in Korea not to visit Peshawar due to security reasons, but they proceeded against such warnings in order to forward their request to the Taliban.
Suliman said that due to such incidents, Islam has been turning into a misunderstood religion in Korea and the rest of the world.The delegation will also meet other religious figures here.
There are about 35,000 Muslims in Korea and before this incident, "we had been preaching Islam in very effective manner," said Khan, a native of Peshawar who settled in Korea about 10 years ago.
While my family or other Muslims, especially non-Koreans, travel on public transport or roam around people look at us sarcastically and some of them even regard Muslims as killers,'' he added.
The 23 South Koreans including 16 women and seven men were kidnapped while riding a bus on July 19 on the Kabul-Kandahar highway. Two of the male hostages were killed and two females were set free. They are the largest group of foreigners to be taken hostage in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that drove the Taliban from power.
Making a desperate request to the Taliban, Suleman said that being representatives of the Muslim community in Korea. "We initiated this visit so as to plead the case of our people and request to our Taliban brothers that these hostages are innocent and they should be released for the sake of humanity."
Zaki also showed some pictures of the Central Mosque where police have been deployed and some busy roads of Seoul where banners were displayed requesting the Taliban to release the hostages.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Korea misunderstanding Islam
I have friends here that are Muslim and they have mentioned that there was a huge protest outside the Seoul Central Mosque in Itaewon and that there was a bit of fighting and stone throwing going on. The Koreans were threatening the Muslims, blaming the recent kidnapping on them. Like the Muslims here had anything to do with it. Most Muslims everywhere have nothing to do with it. There is way too much generalization going on. First it was the Jews, then the Japanese, now the Muslims. Who is next? There have been police outside the mosque since the kidnapping. But here, it isn't really anything unusual, as the American army bases all have Korean soldiers posted outside and some embassies have police or soldiers posted outside the gates. They are everywhere - patrolling; standing guard.